The Victorian government is urging teenagers aged between 15 and 19 to get free meningococcal vaccinations ahead of summer.

So far this year, there have been 25 cases of the deadly disease diagnosed in northern and western metropolitan Melbourne, including two in Brimbank.

With the warmer weather the peak time for meningococcal disease, Health Minister Jill Hennessy says teenagers should take advantage of the vaccination offer.

“If you are eligible, and you haven’t received it yet, get the free vaccine as soon as you can, whether it’s from the GP, at school or at a local council immunisation session,” she said.

“Immunisation saves lives and protects others in the community.”

Statewide, five people have died from meningococcal this year and 74 cases have been diagnosed, an increase on the 52 cases on the same time last year.

Deputy chief health officer Brett Sutton said the worrying trend was likely to continue.

“We have seen a significant rise in meningococcal cases over the last 12 months, with new strains of the disease causing serious illness and deaths across Victoria,” he said.

“It’s important to note that this free meningococcal vaccine is different to the one given to young children and protects against four strains of the deadly disease, which are all on the rise.”

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